Schools-EBOM-v4 LTc1: Alternative transportation

  • Assess conventional commuting

    Conduct a transportation survey early in your project to find out how many points you could earn. The survey will point you to one of the credit options.Conduct a transportation survey early in your project to find out how many points you could earn. The survey will point you to one of the credit options.There are three options for complying with this credit, and in each case completing a transportation survey is the first step. The survey assesses how many conventional commuting trips are taken by occupants compared to a baseline case that assumes every occupant commutes alone in a conventional vehicle to and from the building every day.

    The results of your survey will tell you which credit options are available to you and how many points you can earn, so it’s a good idea to complete this survey early in the project timeline.

    Breaking down the options

    Option 2 provides the opportunity to earn the most points. You’re eligible for this option if your survey results demonstrate an alternative transportation rate of at least 10%. The higher your alternative transit rate, the more points you can earn. There are a total of 15 points on the table for this option (or 16 points if you reach an 80% alternative transit rate, which qualifies you for an Exemplary PerformanceIn LEED, certain credits have established thresholds beyond basic credit achievement. Meeting these thresholds can earn additional points through Innovation in Design (ID) or Innovation in Operations (IO) points. As a general rule of thumb, ID credits for exemplary performance are awarded for doubling the credit requirements and/or achieving the next incremental percentage threshold. However, this rule varies on a case by case basis, so check the credit requirements. point). 

    If your resulting alternative transportation rate is less than 10%, you can still earn one point through Option 1. This gives teams some credit for taking steps to understand commuting patterns, even if the resulting reduction in conventional commuting is small.

    Option 3 provides another way to earn points if your alternative transit rate is less than 10%. For this option you must conduct the survey and also implement a program to encourage the use of alternative transit. Because you’re taking the extra step to implement an alternative transit program, this option is worth two points.

    Public transit is not required

    Some teams assume that they wont earn many points if their building doesn’t have good public transit access. It’s true that urban projects with more public transit options are likely to earn more points under Option 2. 

    However, other, less obvious, modes of alternative commuting can also help your survey results. These include telecommuting, carpooling, compressed work week, and use of green vehicles. In addition, Option 1 and Option 3 provide two other opportunities to pick up points even if your building has limited access to public transit.

    Conducting the transit survey

    Completing a survey is the first requirement for each of the three options. You can use an electronic survey or conduct it in-person (often referred to as the “lobby blitz” approach). The Reference Guide includes lots of good examples and tips for choosing an electronic versus lobby blitz style survey; surveying a random sample of the building population; and optimizing your overall strategy to get the best results.

    You can also use the survey results from a local or regional program, provided that the survey meets some specific requirements detailed in the FAQ section below.

    Be sure to survey the right building users

    In some cases you may need to survey both building occupants and visitors. Your building type will determine who needs to be surveyed.

    Alternative transportation program costs may vary

    The time and costs associated with implementing an alternative transportation program will vary depending on the strategies you include and whether you already have any staff, processes, and policies in place that support your program.

    Good commute-reduction programs typically require staff infrastructure, good oversight of compliance and tracking, and a financial incentive of some kind to encourage participation. However, there are many low-cost strategies that can boost the use of alternative transportation, such as creating educational handouts for new hires, providing preferred parkingPreferred parking, available to particular users, includes designated spaces close to the building (aside from designated handicapped spots), designated covered spaces, discounted parking passes, and guaranteed passes in a lottery system. For employee parking, it refers to the spots that are closest to the entrance used by employees. for rideshares, and offering telecommuting. 

    Readiness Review Questions

    • Does building management currently track alternative transit use as part of a local or regional government program? 

    • Does an alternative transportation program providing information, infrastructure, or incentives currently exist at the building? Could that program be readily enhanced in a manner likely to increase use of alternative commuting options? 

    • Do you have the capacity to distribute an occupant commuting survey and tabulate the results? You can use an online survey tool (which tabulates the results for you), an email survey, or a paper survey.

    FAQ for LTc1: Alternative transportation

    Does the survey need to adhere to SCAQMD Rule 2202 procedures, like in LEED 2009?

    The LEED-EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating systems. v4 Reference Guide does not mention SCAQMD Rule 2202 as the referenced standard. It is not a requirement. 

    What if we already participate in a local transportation survey? Can we use those results?

    The LEED Reference Guide states: “Projects that participate in a local or regional program can use the raw data from those survey results and complete the credit calculations to determine the alternative transportation rate; no additional survey is required. The raw data from a local or regional program can be used only if they are specific to the project building and the results are collected during the performance period.”

    Do we have to collect home zip code data in our survey?

    Gathering zip code information is optional. It’s a useful data point for organizations that are thinking of implementing more ambitious or targeted transportation planning for employees. Zip code data would allow an organization to identify demand for targeted programs addressing geographic areas that are underserved by existing alternative transportation options.

    Do we need to attach unique identifiers to survey respondents? Some occupants will not want to be identified.

    No, being able to identify survey respondents is not a credit requirement. However, you must develop a way to prevent getting multiple responses from the same person.

    Do we need to document that we reduced commuting trips compared to our baseline? For example, our survey results show that conventional commuting is reduced by 25%. To get the points for meeting the 25% threshold do we need to reduce conventional trips by another 25%?

    No, reduction in conventional commute trips is measured against a baseline of 100% conventional vehicle use, not on a reduction of trips compared to your previous performance. Assuming your survey method and other credit documentation are compliant, you have already earned 6 points by reducing conventional trips by 25%. 

    Do motorcycles qualify as an alternative means of transportation? What about scooters?

    No—they do not qualify under the ACEEE definition for this credit. Also, while motorcycles can get better gas mileage than cars, the tailpipe emissions are often higher. Vehicles must have an ACEEE green score of 45 or better to qualify as alternative transportation.

    The LEED Reference Guide says we need to account for seasonal variations in commuting behavior. What should I do?

    Public transit helps projects earn this credit, but there are other alternative transportation methods that can go a long way.Public transit helps projects earn this credit, but there are other alternative transportation methods that can go a long way.The geographic location of your project will likely determine how this will be addressed. Consider how the weather influences commuter choices in your area, and how you can modify your survey timing or strategy accordingly. For example, if you have plenty of parking capacity, occupants may switch their commuting mode per weather conditions or season. A few ideas to consider include: 

    • Conduct the survey in a "shoulder season" (fall or spring) to assess the “average” level of alternative commuting at the project building.
    • Conduct two surveys—one in the summer and one in the winter—and average the results.
    • Develop additional survey questions that can help quantify seasonal differences and provide clues on how to make a reasonable adjustment to your findings to account for seasonal variation. 

    My building has fewer than 100 occupants. What should my sample size be?

    Projects with 100 occupants or fewer must survey 100% of occupants. Surveying the entire population is necessary because an appropriate sample can’t be obtained when there are so few people.

    Note that the USGBC Alternative Transportation Calculator published on November 15, 2013 includes an error and populates an incorrect value for the “total number of occupants required to receive the survey” (row 12) when 100 or fewer “total occupants” are entered into row 8. We strongly recommend surveying the entire population when you have 100 or fewer occupants, despite this error in the calculator.

  • LT Credit 1: Alternative transportation


    To reduce pollution and land development effects from automobile use for transportation.





    Option 1. Transportation survey (1 point)

    Conduct a survey of building occupants on their transportation patterns. Regular building occupants must be surveyed. Visitors must be surveyed if either the typical peak or daily average is greater than the number of regular building occupants.

    Conduct a transportation survey at least once every five years


    Option 2. Alternative Transportation Rate (3–15 points)

    Meet the requirements of Option 1.

    Demonstrate an alternative transportation rate in accordance with Table 1. Alternative transportation strategies that contribute to this reduction include human-powered conveyances (e.g. walking or biking), public transit, telecommuting, informal transit options, compressed workweeks, carpools, and green vehicles.

    Calculations are performed relative to a baseline case that assumes all regular occupants commute alone in conventional automobiles. The calculations must account for seasonal variations in the use of alternative commuting methods and should indicate the distribution of commuting trips using each type of alternative transportation strategy.

    Table 1. Points for alternative transportation rate

    Alternative transportation rate Points
    10% 3
    15% 4
    20% 5
    25% 6
    30% 7
    35% 8
    40% 9
    45% 10
    50% 11
    55% 12
    60% 13
    65% 14
    70% 15


    Option 3. Comprehensive Alternative Transportation Program (2 points)

    Meet the requirements of Option 1.

    Implement an alternative transportation program to reduce the conventional travel rates of building occupants. Include at least one element from each of the following three categories:

    Education strategies

    • new-hire orientation;
    • employee newsletter, flyer, announcements, memos, letters;
    • carpool/vanpool matching website; or
    • employer carpool/vanpool events.

    Basic support strategies

    • guaranteed return trip;
    • preferential parking for rideshare participants;
    • flextime schedule; or
    • ride-matching service.

    Direct strategies

    • telecommuting;
    • compressed workweek schedule;
    • transit subsidy;
    • introduction of a parking fee;
    • bicycle program;
    • parking cash-out;
    • employee clean vehicle purchase program; or
    • carpool program.

Commuting Surveys

Occupant Commute Survey

These sample surveys may be tailored to meet your project building’s needs. Use them to gather occupant commuting data. One of these templates is intended for electronic distribution; one is intended for gathering information in the building's lobby in a "lobby blitz."

Commuting Survey – Survey Results Calculator

USGBC provides a free calculator to assist in using the survey results to assess LEED compliance. You can download it from the USGBC website under Resources.


R. Ted Krasnesky Manager of Sustainable Construction Pepper Construction Company
May 06 2014
161 Thumbs Up

Do school buses contribute to the Option 2 rate

Do school buses contribute as a "ride share" option for students that contribute to the Option 2 alternative transportation rate?

Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. May 22 2014 LEEDuser Moderator

Ted, USGBC defines ride share as "a transit service in which individuals travel together in a passenger car or small van that seats at least four people. It can include human-powered conveyances, which must accommodate at least two people. It must include an enclosed passenger seating area, fixed route service, fixed fare structure, regular operation, and the ability to pick up multiple riders."

Sounds to me like this fits the bill.

R. Ted Krasnesky Manager of Sustainable Construction, Pepper Construction Company May 23 2014 Guest 161 Thumbs Up

Tristan, I appreciate the feedback. Thank you.

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